SWD Marching Panthers need help getting to Pearl Harbor for parade

The Marching Panthers, whose signature style has led to it being called the “best band in the land,” needs to raise $450,000 to make the trip to Honolulu.

Southwest DeKalb's Marching Panthers band, which has performed across the United States and in Europe, now has Hawaii in its sights.

The 200-member band wants to take its signature style to Honolulu to appear in the Nov. 23, 2018, Waikiki Parade of Lights commemorating the 77th anniversary of Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

The Marching Panthers, known as the “best band in the land” will also perform at the Pearl Harbor Memorial and participate in wreath laying ceremonies on the USS Arizona Memorial, final resting place of 1,102 of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed during the attack. The Arizona was one of five battleships sunk by the Japanese.

The price tag for Nov. 17-24 trip is $450,000, and the band is turning to the community for help to make it possible.

SWD Marching Panthers need help getting to Pearl Harbor for parade

Southwest DeKalb’s 200-member band wants to go to Hawaii for the Nov. 23, 2018, Waikiki Parade of Lights commemorating the 77th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Dec. 7, 1941.

Stephen Seda, the Marching Panthers Band Booster Fundraising chair, said the “No Band Student Will Be Left Behind” trip will give band members a “historical perspective they’ll never forget.”  

“It is for these reasons that we reach out to our supporters and partners to request your help,” he said.

Kimberly Hunter, Southwest DeKalb Band Booster president, said the students cannot get to Hawaii without the community’s support.

“Your generous donation and sponsorship will be used to defray the costs that are incurred in supporting the band program,” she said.

For decades now, the Marching Panthers have been able ambassadors, representing DeKalb County School District and South DeKalb nationally and abroad.

SWD Marching Panthers need help getting to Pearl Harbor for parade

The band has performed before presidents, in parades at home and abroad, and in a movie.

In 2002, the Decatur school's band performed at President George Bush’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. It has also strut its stuff at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York, the Rose Bowl in California, and in the Carnival of Flowers Parade in Nice, France.

The band even made it onto the silver screen in 2002's wildly popular "Drumline" movie where band members – wearing the school's gold and navy blue uniforms – comprised the movie’s “hero band.”

Hunter said the band’s future success is reliant upon the community’s generosity and support.

“I’m really hoping to take everyone,” she said.

Donors can contribute money at www.gofundme.com/SWDBand or to $SWDband on Cash App.

Items like shipping/airline services, frequent flyer miles, and breakfast for takeoff day can be delivered to the band room with email notification to swdbands@gmail.com.

“Anything that anyone is able to provide, we’d really appreciate it,” Hunter said. 

The deadline for donations is  Oct. 31.

For more information, contact swdbands@gmail.com or call 404-933-3643.